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(c) Richard Harris

Billy and Jack’s Summer Supper Club

23 August 2017 Josh Barrie

Self-proclaimed “MasterChef losers” Billy Wright and Jack Layer are cooking on the top floor of the Royal Festival Hall right now, but don’t let that title put you off. The food might not be competition winning, but it is certainly worthy of attention: it’s witty, inventive, supper club-style cooking - and there’s a lot of it.

Partners Billy and Jack have been at the Southbank Centre for the last week, charring mackerel while strangers get to know one another over Marmite butter and sourdough. The setting is convivial and communal, and as the sourdough bread is passed around the duo prepare dishes in the middle of the floor; outside, views of Brutalism stretch out over the Thames.


Billy and Jack's Summer Supper Club © Richard Harris

Last year’s MasterChef finalists have formed an alliance since the competition ended. They began with fried chicken, in what is arguably a saturated market, but in their Summer Feasts series at the Southbank Centre they’ve carved out a venture more than worthy of your attention. The second menu, which runs up until 28 August, is underway – so there’s still time – and £45 gets you a selection of sharing starters, sharing mains, and a dessert for two.

Cornish sardines (good to see those on a menu) with heritage tomatoes start proceedings off, followed by a fresh, punchy salad of roast little gem, runner beans, tahini and cucumber, before a garden pea pesto with crispy ham and chilli. The latter is excellent, but nothing compared to the star starter: pressed rabbit terrine with pickled carrots and homemade rapeseed mayo. It’s that dish that shows pedigree, and makes you wonder: if these two didn’t quite cook well enough to win, how good must Jane Devonshire be?


Billy and Jack's Summer Supper Club © Richard Harris

As fairy lights begin to twinkle amongst the dusk views, the main courses arrive. The jerk hanger steak is Billy’s homage to Notting Hill carnival (he used to live close to the carnival route) and comes with Coronation potatoes and a lovely salad with very good radishes.


Billy and Jack's Summer Supper Club © Richard Harris

As Billy gets a special dish, it’s only fair that Jack is allowed to serve up his famed coriander cheesecake for pudding. That’s right: coriander cheesecake – who’d have thought? It’s deconstructed too, but don’t moan – believe in Greg Wallace’s dessert knowledge. Opinions are welcome, and Billy and Jack are around post-dinner for a beer and a chat. A chance to grill them, like one of their sardines. They won’t mind.

Billy and Jack's Summer Supper Club is at the Southbank Centre until 28 August. Meal prices range from £25-45.
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